The trio Hear in Now not only crosses national borders with its personnel—violinist Mazz Swift and cellist Tomeka Reid are from the US, while double bassist Silvia Bolognesi is from Siena, Italy—with its music, it crosses the border between composition and improvisation as well.
The music on Hear in Now’s second studio release, Not Living in Fear, is sui generis. It isn’t jazz, although it does embrace improvisation and some of the feel of jazz, and it isn’t classical, although it does contain composed passages that refigure some of the conventions of post-Minimalist and neo-Romantic music. Whatever label one may wish to use, the music is tightly focused and strongly lyrical throughout. In fact structured lyricism is the most striking quality; all three instruments play melodies in turn, often layered over an accompaniment of the other two instruments’ repeated figures. Bolognesi’s pizzicato lines are especially effective in anchoring the higher voices of violin and cello; Reid’s solid cello work—the essential middle voice binding upper and lower registers–and Swift’s expressive portamento both sit well over the bass’s firmly grounded foundation. Two of the recording’s highlights are pieces dedicated to musical forebears: the elegiac Requiem for Charlie Haden features Bolognesi’s heartfelt pizzicato, while the hymn-like Prayer for Wadud is a beautiful exploration of Phrygian melody and ambience.